The impact of mass production. Mass production changed the way Americans dressed, shopped, and ate. After the Civil War, handmade clothing quickly gave way to ready-to-wear clothes sold through retail outlets. But people did not have to live in large cities or even visit the stores themselves to buy what they needed. In 1872, Aaron Montgomery Ward opened the first mail-order retail business and issued a one-page catalog featuring nearly 150 items; by 1884 the catalog contained more than 200 pages and listed over 10,000 items. Montgomery Ward and its more successful competitor Sears, Roebuck and Company brought the benefits of mass production to farms and small towns by selling everything from clothes to agricultural implements through their catalogs. Mail-order buying was made even more accessible in 1896 with the first rural free delivery (RFD) service.
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